Dinnertime is usually when my kids get their fill of Mom wisdom. The other night, over bowls of polenta and Stephanie Izard’s tasty wild mushroom ragout (thank you, Food + Wine Magazine), I told them a story about how I made a new friend recently, just on the heels of having to let another one go. “You see,” I shared, “When one door closes, another one opens.”
My teenagers sat rolling their eyes, but the kindergartner chimed in winsomely, “And when two doors close, I open the window!”
Hilarious! We all burst out laughing. But when I thought about it that night, I realized the little guy was absolutely right. We all have those moments in our lives where we just need to breathe in some fresh air.
This recipe is for my new friend, as well as anyone who is ready for some cold weather comfort food. It happens to be vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free if you so choose. But it doesn’t skimp on flavor, and the creamy thing is just what I’m craving right now.
I tested both fresh and frozen spinach to see which delivered the best flavor and texture and found that either worked, as long as the spinach was cooked and squeezed dry (the fresh spinach gave up too much water when stirred directly into the sauce).
And at the next dinnertime, as we scarfed spinach, I realized the universe has its strange ways of working. But lucky for us, all it takes is one person to help open your window, let in some fresh air, and restore your faith in friendship.
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread or unsalted organic butter
1 small onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon potato starch or flour of your choice (I like garbanzo flour)
1 heaping tablespoon organic white miso paste
1 (13.5-ounce) can light organic coconut milk (not the beverage)
10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves or 1 (16-ounce) bag chopped frozen organic spinach, pre-cooked (steamed or microwaved) with a sprinkle of sea salt and squeezed dry
1/4 cup Vegan Parmesan or regular Parmesan cheese, optional
1. In a medium pot, heat the Earth Balance over medium heat and sauté the onion, seasoning with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg, until softened.
2. Stir in the potato starch or flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir the miso paste into the mixture until fully incorporated. This is your roux.
3. Now gradually add 1 cup of the coconut milk, stirring constantly, until smooth. Bring to a simmer, reduce the flame to low, and cook for a few minutes until thickened.
4. While the “cream” sauce is cooking, squeeze the cooked spinach dry, then place a handful (about 1/2 cup) of it in a blender with the remaining coconut milk; purée until smooth.
5. Add the cooked spinach and the spinach purée to the sauce; cook for 5 more minutes, until hot and creamy. Stir in the Parmesan cheese if desired.
Photo credit: OodlekadoodlePrimitives
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